2018 Maxima New Car Test Drive
The Nissan Maxima sedan boasts a daring design, a strong V6 engine, taut driving feel, and comfortable cabin.
Fully redesigned for the 2016 model year, Maxima hasn't changed much for 2018. In addition to wearing a fresh black-accented V-Motion grille, the 2018 Maxima adds Android Auto to its Apple CarPlay-enabled infotainment system.
Nissan offers five ascending Maxima trim levels: S, SV, SL, SR, and Platinum. Each holds the same front-wheel-drive powertrain. A 3.5-liter V6, developing 300 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque, mates with Nissan's continuously variable transmission (CVT). Even though the CVT contains no actual gears, D-Step shift logic can simulate gearchanges.
Maxima is full-size in outside dimensions but feels closer to midsize inside. Sportier than large four-doors, it isn't as space-efficient. Even Nissan's smaller, midsize Altima is roomier. Beneath its swoopy bodywork, the Maxima shares some vehicular architecture with the Altima. In the Maxima, outboard passengers can enjoy deep, thickly padded bucket seats, but fall a bit short on expected space.
The Maxima is more enjoyable to drive than many full-size four-door sedans, and it has a sportier character.
An optional Midnight Edition package gives the SR sedan blacked-out trim, plus surround-view cameras and driver-alert warning.
In addition to being available with a broad range of safety technology, Maximas have earned laudable crash-test scores. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2018 Maxima a rating of five stars overall, as well as for both frontal and side impacts. The calculated rollover score also was five-star.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the Maxima a Top Safety Pick, but only with the LED headlights fitted to SR and Platinum trim levels. Halogen headlights on other versions are rated Poor. All crash-test scores rated Good, with Superior frontal crash prevention.
All Maximas have a rearview camera, as well as forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking. Standard on higher trim levels are blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control.
Nissan Maxima S ($33,270) comes with power front seats, cloth upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera, remote start, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and 18-inch wheels. Infotainment includes an 8.0-inch screen with navigation, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. (Prices are MSRP and do not include $885 destination charge.)
Maxima SV ($35,270) features leather-appointed seat upholstery, heated front seats, a driver-seat thigh extension, and front/rear parking sensors. Maxima SL ($37,690) adds a panoramic moonroof, active noise cancellation, 11-speaker Bose audio, LED interior lighting, blind-spot warning, adaptive cruise control, and extra USB ports.
Maxima Platinum ($40,940) comes with quilted leather seat inserts, a surround-view camera system, power rear sunshade, height-adjustable passenger seat, ventilated front seats and LED headlights.
Maxima SR ($38,530) has a sport-tuned suspension and 19-inch wheels, but lacks the panoramic moonroof. Premium leather seats with Alcantara inserts, LED headlights, and ventilated front seats are standard.